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Tetrapod Zoology

Tetrapod Zoology

Amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals - living and extinct
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    Darren Naish Darren Naish is a science writer, technical editor and palaeozoologist (affiliated with the University of Southampton, UK). He mostly works on Cretaceous dinosaurs and pterosaurs but has an avid interest in all things tetrapod. His publications can be downloaded at He has been blogging at Tetrapod Zoology since 2006. Check out the Tet Zoo podcast at! Follow on Twitter @TetZoo.
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  • World Tapir Day, 2015

    Just some of the many toy Malayan tapirs I own. The models at the top are old Britiains models. The knitted tapir below is by the wonderful Sasha Kopf, aka or Tapir Girl.

    I’ve just learnt (thanks, Marko Bosscher) that today (April 27th) is World Tapir Day, an annual event in which the world unites in celebration of our plucky, trunk-nosed perissodactyl pals and in which we aim to enhance awareness of tapir conservation through the raising of funds and sale of tapir-themed merchandise. Check out the World [...]

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    That Brontosaurus Thing

    At left: 'Brontosaurus is Back' by John Conway. At right: YPM 1980, the holotype of Brontosaurus excelsus. Photo by Mathew Wedel.

    So, the name Brontosaurus is back in business. After comparing, analysing, measuring and coding an extraordinary amount of anatomical detail pertaining to diplodocid sauropods, Emanuel Tschopp and colleagues have produced the largest-ever phylogenetic analysis of sauropods (Tschopp et al. 2015). Their work is published in the recently launched open-access journal PeerJ (a venue that I [...]

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    Some of The Things I Have Gotten Wrong

    Montage featuring some of the topics discussed in this article. But what's with the sea-snake and softshell turtle? All will be revealed in time.

    As a regular reader, you might know that Tet Zoo has been going for over nine years now. I’ve written about a lot of stuff, I’ve been intrigued and enthused by a substantial number of animals and animal-themed topics, and I’ve been attracted to a variety of controversial ideas and claimed discoveries. And I’ve gotten [...]

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    People Are Modifying Monitors to Make Gargantuan Geckos

    Note the long, slender tail, the five-toed foot, five-fingered hand, and the blunt tips to the digits. The animal's right eye might be visible in this shot. It's gecko-like, but not like any gecko we know.

    Over the last several days a consortium of people interested in herpetology, weird animals, animal lore, and special effects have worked together to help resolve an incredible and bizarre ‘mystery’*. People in Indonesia (and perhaps elsewhere in tropical Asia) are modifying live monitor lizards to make them look like gargantuan Tokay geckos Gekko gecko. * [...]

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    The Turcana and Other Valachians

    A Turkana sheep encountered in the field at Pui, Transylvania. This sheep is not three-legged - it's just a quirk of composition. Photo by Darren Naish.

    I’m about as interested in domestic animals as I am in non-domesticated ones. Sheep of various kinds have been discussed on Tet Zoo a few times, and right now I want to say a few brief things about a breed I recently saw on several occasions in Romania – the Turcana or Tsurcana, a highly [...]

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    Cetacean Heresies: How the Chromatic Truthometer Busts the Monochromatic Paradigm

    If you can't see the True colours of Science, you're an ordinary dullard and you should go away. True appearance of the Humpback. Rendition by Darren Naish and Gareth Monger.

    Check any mainstream book on the whales, dolphins and porpoises of the world and you’ll see these creatures depicted in tedious monochrome; as eternally decked out in blacks and greys. It’s a stale, boring, bland view of these remarkable creatures, and as a young student, flicking through the cetological books in the library, I would [...]

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    A Fine First Finding of Darevskia

    Here's the refresher for squamate head scalation you were looking for. This image (depicting a lacertid) is from Arnold (1989). In case it isn't obvious, you need to obtain and read Nick Arnold's papers if you're really interested in lacertid diversity and evolution.

    While in Romania back in 2011, I photographed the lizard you see here. It’s clearly a lacertid: a member of the Eurasian-African group that contains the familiar Lacerta sand lizards and green lizards as well as many other groups. But, beyond that, I couldn’t identify it in the field. Back at Tet Zoo Towers, and [...]

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    You Never Hear Much About Shrew-Opossums

    Caenolestes fuliginosus, image by Joseph Wolf, in the public domain.

    You never really hear much about shrew-opossums or rat-opossums, the small group of living, South American marsupials properly called caenolestids or caenolestoids. Small (c 20-30 cm long in total), long-tailed, mostly dark brown, and predominantly faunivorous and nocturnal, they inhabit the grasslands and forests of the western side of the Andes. They’re said to be [...]

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    The Huia and the Sexually Dimorphic Bill

    Heads of male (above) and female Huia in old bird anatomy display at London's Natural History Museum. Photo by Darren Naish.

    It’s time for one of those classic ‘from the archives’ type articles. This one was originally published in July 2008 at Tet Zoo ver 2. Apart from tiny editorial tweaks, it hasn’t been updated. Anyway… The original title for this article was going to be “Sorry Heteralocha, but you ain’t that special”. I ended up [...]

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    Curious Complex Contentious Coots

    A pugnacious, highly aquatic, lobe-toed rallid grazing on grass in close proximity to humans? What form of devilry is this? COOTS.

    One of the birds I see most regularly here in southern England is the Eurasian coot Fulica atra. This is another of those oh-so-familiar animals that we see so often that we normally pay it little attention. Stop and look properly, and you’ll discover something pretty incredible. While at Kew Gardens recently I took a [...]

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